Goya, Obelisk: An Invitation to Burn

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 21st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

goya obelisk

[Please note: Press play above to stream Goya’s Obelisk in full. Album is out Aug. 1 on STB Records (CD & tape; LP to follow). Thanks to the band and label for letting me host the stream.]

Obelisk is the well-titled second full-length offering from Phoenix, Arizona, three-piece Goya. Set for release through respected purveyor STB Records, it follows 2013’s 777 debut and their initial 2012 demo (review here), as well as a 2014 EP, Satan’s Fire (review here), and an early 2015 split with Seattle’s Wounded Giant (review here) that found them dug deep into Electric Wizard-style plod on the extended “No Place in the Sky.” What was an early version of the track there is refined on Obelisk and given due reverence in its position as the 14-minute closer, following a swath of dirge riffing, devil-worship and malevolent churn.

I can’t quite decide if the album knows how much fun it’s having as it conjures its darkened chaos-swirl, but suffice it to say, a song like opener “Nothin’ but Dead Stuff” might not be a laugher in terms of its lyrics, but from the opening watery guitar provided by Jeff Owens (also vocals) that unfolds Oborn-again over the swinging ride of drummer Nick LoseJirix-Mie Paz plays bass on the record but seems to have since been replaced by Ben Clarkson — to the penultimate “Echo from Space” interlude of feedback before “No Place in the Sky” takes hold, it becomes abundantly clear that Goya are absolutely dug into the grooves of their own making and are enjoying the crap out of the heavy roll they enact across Obelisk‘s nine-track/55-minute span.

That being the case makes it much easier to follow suit. Goya have their variety in structure and approach — the aforementioned “Echo from Space” serves well as a late interlude, and the quiet ritualized vibe of “The Star” after second track “The Devil’s Pray” does likewise, while “300 Eyes” cuts to the heart of their songwriting with an acoustic modus and layered vocals and “The Sun,” which follows, is a standout for its speed alone — but the crux of Obelisk‘s overarching atmosphere and the impression it leaves resides in cuts like “Nothin’ but Dead Stuff,” “The Devil’s Prey,” “Beyond Good and Evil” and “No Place in the Sky,” Goya making a case to establish their own witchcult in bouncing riffs and Satanihilist vibing. Taken on their surface, these parts of Obelisk aren’t especially surprising — 777, Satan’s Fire, that Wounded Giant split and even the early demo carried a similar influence base, but it’s what the trio have managed to bring to it of their own that distinguishes their work.

To wit, the patience of the 7:46 title-track, “Obelisk,” becomes a defining moment for more than the simple fact that the song also shares its name with the album. Its slow unfurling is deceptively graceful, and while one hesitates to call Goya subtle since that doesn’t really seem to be what they’re going for, they’ve cleverly managed to begin a process whereby having mastered their influences, they’re starting to move beyond them. That’s not necessarily a one-album process, but if you listen to the shifts between “Obelisk,” “300 Eyes,” “The Sun” and “Beyond Good and Evil,” it becomes clear there’s more to the band’s approach than buzzsaw tones and space-echo vocals.

goya (photo by Chas McElmury)

Not to say neither of those elements aren’t present and/or put to good use, just that they’re not exclusives for the band at this stage in their development. The effect that has is that when the quicker push of “The Sun” gives way to the lumbering, weighted crash of “Beyond Good and Evil,” the latter is all the more righteous. Likewise, back on side A, the gradual buildup of “Obelisk” is all the more worth appreciating after “The Devil’s Pray” and “The Star” lead into it — bottom line: the album isn’t short at 55 minutes, but it is impeccably structured to highlight Goya‘s tonal and conceptual strengths. When it comes around, “No Place in the Sky” fuzzes to life with Owens‘ guitar setting the pace and sets itself to the complex task of tying the various sides of Obelisk together.

Cohesive as the album is atmospherically — and it is — that’s not an easy task to ask of one song, even at 14 minutes. Still, “No Place in the Sky” reinforces the mood the band has worked with for the duration, the godlessness that served as theme in “The Devil’s Prey” and “Beyond Good and Evil,” and the rolling rhythms of those tracks and the opener without losing sight of making its own impression, which it does in the second half centering around memorable cycles through and around the line, “It doesn’t fucking matter.” I’m not sure the fuckall is quite the guiding principle the band would have the listener believe — if it was, they probably wouldn’t have paid so much attention to the flow of the record between its songs — but you gotta end somewhere and, as I say, “No Place in the Sky” makes for a memorable finish, rounding out its last minute with a slowdown and crash that lets the amp buzz carry Obelisk to its conclusion.

What will be a readily accessible listen for the already converted, Goya‘s second offers evidence of growth undertaken, provides glimpses of what might develop down the line, finds the band reveling in their processes and hits like a hammer made of pills. There is little one might ask of it that it does not deliver.

Goya on Thee Facebooks

Goya on Bandcamp

STB Records webstore

STB Records on Thee Facebooks

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Mugstar & The Cosmic Dead, Goya, Gangrened, Attalla and TarLung

Posted in Radio on December 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

I’ve been listening to The Obelisk Radio a lot this week, particularly while starting to put together my top albums of 2014 list, so it seemed only appropriate to get a new round of adds up to the server. As we come to the end of the year, there’s always a slowdown in terms of releases, but if I had to put a number to it, I’d call it a 10, maybe 20 percent drop at most. If it was running water and you were looking at it, you’d notice no difference. A flood is still a flood.

As such, 14 records joined the server today. Some are recently reviewed, some aren’t out yet, some have been out for a little bit. It’s a solid batch of stuff, and if you haven’t yet had enough of lists — more to come, believe me — it’s worth a look at the Playlist and Updates Page. The amount of stuff on there is staggering. It’s a wonder the radio stream manages to fit in so much Clutch at all.

Let’s get to it.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for Dec. 19, 2014:

Mugstar & The Cosmic Dead, Split LP

Mugstar & Cosmic Dead Split LP

Two sides, one song from each band, each a massive slab of a jam. Glasgow’s The Cosmic Dead and Liverpool’s Mugstar make a solid pairing, and by solid I definitely mean liquid, and by liquid I mean that’s what your brains will be by the time Mugstar‘s “Breathing Mirror” (18:42) and The Cosmic Dead‘s “Fukahyoocastulah” (25:51) are done. Instrumental in their entirety and jammed out on a subspace frequency that I only imagine they can already hear in the Delta Quadrant — and no doubt they’re wondering what the title of The Cosmic Dead‘s contribution means exactly — both cuts share an affinity for progressive heavy psych exploration, kosmiche and krautrock alike, but with a fresh take on the classic idea of we’re-gonna-get-in-a-room-and-this-is-what-happens that runs through, whether it’s in the drone midsection of “Breathing Mirror” after the jam has died down and before its resurgence, or the later reaches of “Fukayoocastulah,” which rest on the nigh-eternal bassline that’s steady enough to hold the course despite the various effects freakouts, slow swirls and experiments happening around it. About 45 minutes solid of primo heavy jamming? Sign me up. Mugstar’s website, on Bandcamp, The Cosmic Dead on Thee Faceboks, on Bandcamp.

Goya, Satan’s Fire

Goya Satan's Fire

Eleven-minute opener “Malediction and Death” makes its primary impression in its consuming tonality — a harsh but encompassing low end that emerges out of the initial cavalcade of feedback starting the song. The first three minutes of “Malediction and Death” are noise before Phoenix’s Goya kick in their riff, drums and vocals, sounding as huge on the Satan’s Fire EP as on their preceding split with Wounded Giant (review here) but perhaps even more malevolent as they continue to find their place within wizard doom, marked out by the two-at-once solo shredding of guitarist/vocalist Jeff Owens, the lurching rhythm behind him and the swing of drummer Nick Lose, whose snare punctuates “Malediction and Death” like a life-preserver tossed into the abyss. Unsurprisingly, they end noisy. “Symbols” picks up with two minutes of sparse, atmospheric drumming, and the title-track (5:58) finishes with a tale of antichristianity, dropping out of life, and watching the world fall apart. Doom? Yes. Perhaps not as patient as “Malediction and Death,” “Satan’s Fire” itself offers suitable heat, and delivered through amps that likewise sound about ready to melt, provides a memorable impression even beyond its Oborn-style hook. Goya on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Attalla, Attalla

Attalla Attalla

Somewhere between classic doom and more aggressive, hardcore punk-derived noise, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, four-piece Attalla are the kind of band who could probably release nothing but 7″ singles for the next five years and still make a go of it. As it stands, their self-titled debut offers a stirring rawness in the dual guitars that reminds there’s more ways to make an impact tonally than just with volume or fuzz. Their roots are in punk, and that’s plain enough to hear in lead guitarist Cody Stieg‘s vocals on songs like “Light” and “Lust,” but “Haze” nestles into a stoner groove late that suits Attalla well, and the later “Veil” offers charged propulsion in the drums of Aaron Kunde, whose snare sound is tinny but fitting with the sans-frills stylings of Stieg, rhythm guitarist Brian Hinckley and bassist Bryan Kunde. Some variation in tempo throughout changes things up, but a particularly triumphant moment comes with the raw Slayer-esque foreboding (think slow Slayer) that begins “Doom,” a fitting closer to Attalla‘s Attalla with its subtly complex stylistic blend and relatively barebones presentation. I’m not sure where Attalla go from here in terms of developing their sound, but the debut offers reason enough to want to find out. Attalla on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

TarLung, TarLung

TarLung TarLung

If you played me TarLung‘s TarLung debut full-length and told me the trio were from North Carolina, I’d undoubtedly believe you. In fact, they hail from Vienna, Austria, but just so happen to have the Southern sludge ideology nailed down on their first offering. Roots in Crowbar and Eyehategod and Sourvein can be heard throughout, big nod, harsh vocals, weighted plod. The guitars of Rotten and Phillipp “Five“ Seiler (the latter also vocals) brings in some of that Pepper Keenan-style Southern riffing, on “Last Breath” particularly, but the bulk of what they and drummer Marian Waibl get up to on these seven tracks is rawer and nastier, the album’s last three cuts — “Apeplanet,” “Black Forest” and “Space Caravan” — providing the best glimpse at TarLung‘s effective aesthetic interpretation. Tonally and methodologically sound, what remains for them to do is hone a more individualized approach, but particularly for a self-released first album, the crisp harshness they convey on the centerpiece “C2″ — a kind of maddening high pitch running throughout — satisfies when taken on its own level, and among the three-piece’s assets, their lack of pretense will no doubt serve them well moving forward. TarLung on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Gangrened, We are Nothing

Gangrened We are Nothing

Proffering lurching, aggressive sludge over three tracks arranged longest to shortest, Finnish trio Gangrened conjure sweeping chaos on We are Nothing, blatantly contradicting the title of the release despite whatever riff-laden nihilism might be at work philosophically. Among the most telling moments on the release — which follows a split tape from the four piece of  vocalist Ollijuhani Kujansivu, guitarist/bassist Andreas Österlund, guitarist Jon Imbernon and drummer Owe Inborr, who’ve since traded out their rhythm section — is the opening sample of “Them” in which a man in a Southern US accent rants in paranoid rage about helicopters flying over his property, indicative of some conspiracy or other. In both their influence and their execution, that fits Gangrened‘s overall portrayal well, but both the 12-minute opener “Lung Remover” and closing semi-Black Flag cover “Kontti” (translated “24 Pack” and a feedback-soaked, sludged-up play on “Six Pack”) are pissed off enough to warrant the attention they seem to be demanding in their noisy charge, snail-paced and malevolent as it is. Gangrened on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

As always, this is just a fraction of what was added to The Obelisk Radio today. If you get the chance to check any of this stuff out, I hope you dig it, and if you decide to launch the player, I hope whatever’s playing is awesome.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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Goya & Wounded Giant, Split: No Place in the Sky

Posted in Reviews on December 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

goya wounded giant split

Phoenix duo Goya and Seattle’s Wounded Giant make fitting partners. Their new split 12″ on STB Records finds them distinct enough to be immediately distinguished one from the other, but still with enough in common in their proliferation of plus-sized riffery not to be mismatched. In the case of Goya, the split follows their late-2013 full-length debut, 777, and the preceding 2012 demo (review here), and the (now) duo of guitarist/bassist/vocalist Jeff Owens and drummer Nick Lose have already seen fit to issue a follow-up EP, released Dec. 9, called Satan’s Fire. Their inclusion is the 14-minute plodder “No Place in the Sky,” where Wounded Giant deliver two tracks, “The Room of the Torch” and “Dystheist,” totaling a minute less. The Seattle three-piece of bassist Dylan A. Rogers, guitarist/vocalist Bobby James and drummer Alex Bytnar put out their debut full-length, Lightning Medicine, last year and supported it with an appearance at this year’s Hoverfest in Portland, Oregon. All told, the split is a 27-minute showcase for two up-and-coming acts who by all accounts have their sounds together and who’ve been met with no shortage of “whoa no shit heavy riffs bro!”-type hyperbole. Fair enough.

STB‘s endorsement is noteworthy in itself. The label has rightfully earned a reputation over the last two years for both its ear and the quality of its vinyl product. I don’t think they’ve put anything out that hasn’t been gone shortly thereafter, and releases from Ancient WarlocksGeezerCurse the Son and Druglord have put them on the map as a considerable presence in American underground heavy proffering a new wave of stoner rock in which it seems only right to count Goya and Wounded Giant as participants. The former are granted side A of the split, and they use their time wisely, “No Place in the Sky” building from a fade-in of feedback fuzz to a languid march that takes hold in full tone at 1:40. Their album and new EP are less so, but Goya‘s demo was almost singly indebted sonically to Electric Wizard, bringing a rawer feel to the Witchcult Today style, and “No Place in the Sky” works in a similar vein, its rhythmic swing and Owens‘ buried-under-a-wall-of-distortion echoing vocals both seem to be culled from Jus Oborn‘s book of spells. They’re hardly the only band out there at this point working under that influence, and they bring more to the presentation than many on “No Place in the Sky,” which lumbers through verse and chorus hooks en route to a bridge of Iommic layered soloing that very subtly hints at the level of construction at work in their sound. Their songwriting, likewise, finds a sense of accomplishment in returning after that jam to the verse and chorus — the lines “It doesn’t really matter/Nothing fucking matters” standing out — before jamming its way into oblivion and a finish of over a minute solid of sustained amp hum and feedback. Take that, ears.

goya wounded giant (Photo by Zack Bishop)

Classic metal is the first vibe Wounded Giant give off on “The Room of the Torch” (7:07), James‘ guitar riffing out a declaration reminiscent of Iron Maiden, but that’s really only part of the story. Half-time drums give the beginnings of Wounded Giant‘s first inclusion a nod of its own with a punchy bassline and an emergent, airy lead that adds to the languid feel. A slowdown before two minutes in marks the transition into a doomier verse — not quite as Wizardly as Goya, but that’s still a factor — with shouts echoing over downer riffs that pick up to a more upbeat thrust of a chorus. The back and forth plays out until shortly before five minutes in, Bytnar‘s kick, double-kick only seconds before, provides the shift to the faster progression serving as the apex of the track. Like Goya, they rein it back in to finish out, albeit more subtly with just a slowdown instrumental reference to the verse riff that gives way to fading feedback and start of “Dystheist” (6:08), which sounds like a crowd shout but is gone soon enough into neo-burly chugging and more restrained vocals, compressed and following the riff. A more open chorus arrives underscored by more double-kick and a metallic feel met head-on with heavy rock tonality, the flourish of the preceding cut stripped away in favor of a more forward attack, which Wounded Giant handle well. A rawer shout, almost a scream, finishes the chorus and that will be the endpoint of “Dystheist” as well on the second cycle through — the structure no less frill-less than the sound, capping the split in strong, commanding form.

As the goal of the release, already noted, is to highlight what Goya and Wounded Giant have going sonically and to keep their momentum in motion, I see no way in which the split doesn’t meet that target. Both Goya‘s track and Wounded Giant‘s tracks deliver heavy-hitting, solid genre-minded executions and, paired up, they offer each band’s quickly-massing audience to encounter the other, which, you know, is the whole idea. The temptation with splits is always to pit one act against the other, to determine a “winner” like they’re in competition. Fine. That’s a lot of fun, but truth be told, nobody here loses, and it doesn’t seem like Goya or Wounded Giant have any interest in duking it out so much as allying themselves to further their individual causes. Score one for riff diplomacy.

Goya & Wounded Giant, Split (2015)

Goya on Thee Facebooks

Goya on Bandcamp

Wounded Giant on Thee Facebooks

Wounded Giant on Bandcamp

STB Records on Bandcamp

STB Records store

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Take Over and Destroy Touring the West Coast with Year of No Light

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

take over and destroy

This summer, Arizona six-piece Take Over and Destroy released their second full-length, Vacant Face, and at the end of the month, they’ll head out in support of the new album alongside French doomers Year of No Light. The tour runs from Oct. 30 in L.A. to Nov. 9 in Oakland, and will be certain to harsh all kinds of mellows up and down that side of the nation. It’s a pretty interesting mix of bands, but both share an affinity for darkness that should serve well to tie one set into the next. Take Over and Destroy also play the Southwest Terror Fest in Tucson, AZ, sharing the stage with The Atlas MothBlackqueen and Spiritual Shepherd at the Friday night after-show.

For those of us on the Eastern Seaboard, we won’t get to see TOAD, but Year of No Light have two shows booked at Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar for Nov. 13 and 14. They are excellent live and will be joined by Sannhet and Gnaw and others.

This from the PR wire:

take over and destroy year of no light dates

Arizona Black Acid Trippers TAKE OVER AND DESTROY Announce West Coast Tour w/ French Doom Monolith YEAR OF NO LIGHT

Phoenix, Arizona’s Take Over And Destroy will soon be invade the Pacific Northwest and its surrounding territories with their memorable, mysterious, and powerful music, joining French doom behemoths YEAR OF NO LIGHT for a string of dates that includes shows with the likes of LESBIAN, EIGHT BELLS, and more. The tour poster was designed and executed by esteemed illustrator Bryan Proteau (Navres Mortes) with text by Nanotear.

Check out the dates below!

YEAR OF NO LIGHT + TAKE OVER AND DESTROY TOURDATES
10/30 Los Angeles, CA – Complex
11/01 Salt Lake City, UT – Bar Deluxe
11/02 Boise, ID – Crazy Horse
11/03 Spokane, WA – TBA
11/04 Seattle, WA – Highline
11/05 Bellingham, WA – Shakedown w/Lesbian
11/06 Olympia, WA – Obsidian
11/07 Portland, OR – Rotture w/Eight Bells
11/08 Sacramento, CA – Café Colonial
11/09 Oakland, CA – Uptown

https://www.facebook.com/TakeOverAndDestroy
http://takeoveranddestroy.bandcamp.com/
http://takeoveranddestroy.bigcartel.com

Take Over and Destroy, Vacant Face (2014)

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Fuzz Evil and Chiefs Split 7″ Due Oct. 21

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Battleground Records will release a split seven-inch between Fuzz Evil and Chiefs on Oct. 21. The 300-copies-only vinyl features one song from each band, and is pressed to gray/white splatter 7″, with preorders also serving as a contest entry to win a test pressing. It will mark the first physical release from Chiefs and I think for Fuzz Evil as well, who are an offshoot of Arizona heavy rockers Powered Wig Machine. No audio yet — with two songs there’s not much to give away — but info on the split came down the PR wire along with some Fuzz Evil live dates.

It goes like this:

fuzz evil chiefs split

FUZZ EVIL & CHIEFS Split 7-Inch EP To See October Release Via Battleground Records

The Battleground Records roster continues to rapidly expand, with another new release on the horizon for October, in the form of a split 7″ from FUZZ EVIL and CHIEFS.

On the A-side, the FUZZ EVIL trio delivers a nearly five-and-a-half minute, solid, groove-laden, heavy psych rock track, “Glitterbones.” Hailing from Sierra Vista, Arizona, the band is comprised of Wayne and Joey Rudell of Powered Wig Machine on vocals/guitar and vocals/bass, respectively, and drummer Marlin Tuttle. Flip to the B-side, and the more than five-and-a-half minute big time jam of CHIEFS’ fiery “Stone Bull” lets loose. The California-based outfit, on this recording consisting of Paul Valle on vocals/guitar and Stephen Varns on drums, delivers prime, hard-hitting desert rock, as declared from the opening riff of their side of the shared release.

Battleground will release the FUZZ EVIL / CHIEFS split 7″ on October 21st. Limited to 300 copies, the heavy grey vinyl with white splatters is cut at 45 RPM and features artwork by David Paul Seymour. For a limited time, every preorder via Battleground receives an entry to win a test pressing of the 7″ – place orders HERE.

With new live shows expected to be confirmed from both FUZZ EVIL and CHIEFS over the coming weeks, FUZZ EVIL has already confirmed several new Fall gigs including release shows for the 7″ in both their hometown of Sierra Vista as well as Tucson.

FUZZ EVIL / CHIEFS Split 7″ Track Listing:
A. FUZZ EVIL “Glitterbones
B. CHIEFS “Stone Bull”

FUZZ EVIL shows:
10/02/2014 Flycatcher – Tucson, AZ
10/21/2014 JR’s – Sierra Vista, AZ – 7″ release show
11/07/2014 Flycatcher – Tucson, AZ – 7″ release show
11/08/2014 Superbrawler – Benson, AZ

https://www.facebook.com/FuzzEvil
https://www.facebook.com/wearechiefs
https://www.facebook.com/battlegroundrecords
http://battlegroundrecords.bigcartel.com

Fuzz Evil, Live at the Yucca Tap Room

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Duuude, Tapes! Godhunter & Secrets of the Sky, Split

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on September 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

They kind of had to stretch to make the title work, but they got there in the end. For each respective side of the Battleground Records split tape between Arizona polisci sludgecore bashers Godhunter and Oakland atmospheric blackened doomers Secrets of the Sky, there are two songs. Godhunter present “Pursuit/Predator” and “Gh/0st:s” and Secrets of the Sky have “The Star” and “Gh/0st:s (Part II),” the latter cut for both deriving its title from an acronym of the bands’ names, the second one altered so that if written out it would appear as “Of the Sky: Secrets” and stylized with a zero where the ‘o’ in “of” would otherwise be. Again, it’s a stretch, but they make it work, and tie the two pieces together musically well. The two acts toured together earlier this summer around slots at the Doom in June festival in Las Vegas and they’ll partner again — with many others as well — for the Southwest Terror Fest as part of a booming lineup headed by NeurosisSunnO))), Goatsnake, et al. On the earlier tour, the tape was sold in an edition of 100 copies with godhunter secrets of the sky split tapeartwork by Nate Burns. Vinyl is due at the end of this month in cooperation between Battleground and The Compound.

What the two bands mostly have in common is that they’re heavy, and yes, I recognize that says next to nothing about them. Godhunter derive a big part of their sound from hardcore, and as the “Pursuit/running you down” call and response gang-style vocals over acoustic guitar round out “Pursuit/Predator” — which begins and ends with the Zodiac Killer, sampled — that’s all the more prevalent. To contrast, Secrets of the Sky take a Euro-style approach to blackened doom, a clearer production than one thinks of to fit the phrase “American black metal” adding a lush sensibility to their doomed progression on “The Star.” I suppose the two bands share an affinity for experimentation as well, however, since both 10-plus-minute installments of “Gh/0st:s” depart widely from the sphere of what one might expect from the band. In Godhunter‘s case, they bring in vocalist Julia DeConcini of Young Hunter and Burning Palms to top a moody, ambient tension with layers of otherworldly melody. There’s a spoken word break somewhere around the middle, and a guitar chug emerges later on, but at no point does “Gh/0st:s” explode with the kind of aggression shown in “Pursuit/Predator,” and that’s obviously the idea.

Immediately, Secrets of the Sky are on a different wavelength. Side two starts out with guitars slowly building up, and when “The Star” kicks in full brunt, the Oakland five-piece include a roaring death metal growl for good measure. A current of synth throughout provides further distinction, but even withoutgodhunter secrets of the sky tapeSecrets of the Sky have a more metallic root. Blackened vocals over a rolling doom verse give way to atmospheric guitar and spoken whispers, and it’s not until the final moments a cleaner-sung approach is revealed. By then, Secrets of the Sky have taken “The Star” up and down and around and beaten the hell out of it, a clear, full production ensuring that nothing is lost in the process. A more plotted feel presides over “Gh/0st:s (Part II)” as well, which is instrumental save for the endearingly blasphemous Exorcist sample at the end, as it too builds and recedes with crisply mixed toms, synth, acoustic guitar and plugged-in rumble. The sample is what pushes the track past 10 minutes, and I’d call it superfluous, but Secrets of the Sky and Godhunter pretty clearly had in mind that the pieces would complement each other and be of similar length, and they are.

Despite the sonic differences, there’s an apparent affinity between the two bands for each other’s work, and that comes across as they meet in the middle (it’s a very far out “middle”) on the two “Gh/0st:s” pieces. Still, each side of the tape has something different to offer underscoring the idea that, let’s say, if you’re showing up to a gig where both acts will be taking the stage, there’s really any number of angles from which your ass might be kicked.

Godhunter & Secrets of the Sky, Split (2014)

Godhunter on Thee Facebooks

Secrets of the Sky on Thee Facebooks

Battleground Records

The Compound

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Sorxe Premiere “The Mountain Man” from Surrounded by Shadows

Posted in audiObelisk on August 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

“The Mountain Man,” the rhythmically-centered, viciously lumbering finale of Sorxe‘s self-released debut album, Surrounded by Shadows, is led directly into by the title-track, a five-minute alteration of consciousness via ambience, some touches of brooding Neurosis drone emerging amid the Phoenix-based four-piece’s own exploratory sensibility. The pummel that emerges from the drum intro is all the more devastating for the extended break beforehand. As such, before you click play below, take a deep breath.

Sorxe‘s Surrounded by Shadows draws on the best elements left from the largely washed out post-metal movement. They tradeoff atmospherics and churning, crushing riffs, vary their approach widely, and toy with structures and builds to create a full-album sensibility that each individual song feeds into. The lineup of bassists Christopher Coons and Roger Williams (the latter a founding member of Graves at Sea), guitarist/vocalist/recording engineer Tanner Crace (also synth) and drummer Shane Ocell made their debut in 2013 with an EP called Realms, and all three of those tracks reappear on Surrounded by Shadows, including the 10-minute “Make it So,” which on the full-length functions as the centerpiece around which the rest of the album swirls, darkly hued and rife with multi-directional aggression.

For having two bassists, the guitar isn’t lost in the mix — one always imagines a consuming wave of low end, as if the extra four strings preclude being able to hear anything else — but when Sorxe lock into a full-brunt weighted stretch, you can feel the impact of that extra heft. Even their quieter reflections seem to have a moody feel, and as Crace layers and alternates his vocals between cleaner singing, growls and screams, the band fluidly transcends the bounds of post-hardcore, doom, sludge and post-metal, while effectively maintaining an identity of their own that never seems content to commit to one or the other. No doubt that’s a big part of what makes Surrounded by Shadows such a satisfying front-to-back listen.

But that closer. “The Mountain Man” has its stomp and plod in rounding out the nine-track/55-minute offering, and its initial explosion in chaotic, crushing noise is high among Surrounded by Shadows‘ most satisfying moments, but there’s consciousness at work behind all that bludgeoning. It would be hard for any individual piece to completely sum up everything Sorxe have on offer with their debut, but in providing the album with its apex, “The Mountain Man” also provides a showcase for Sorxe‘s burgeoning dynamic. It is encompassing in its heaviness.

Hope you enjoy:

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Sorxe will release Surrounded by Shadows on Sept. 9 with Bandcamp streams beginning one week before. They’re also slated to appear at this year’s Southwest Terror Fest on Oct. 18 in Tucson, AZ, where they’ll share the stage with Neurosis and The Body. More info at the links below:

Sorxe on Thee Facebooks

Sorxe on Bandcamp

Southwest Terror Fest on Thee Facebooks

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Twingiant, Sin Nombre

Posted in Radio on May 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Caked in dudely burl and post-Church of Misery riffage, Phoenix, Arizona, sludge rockers Twingiant follow their 2012 full-length, Mass Driver, with the brash dual-guitarisms of the Sin Nombre EP. The five-track collection is self-released and built on cement-solid riffs from guitarists Dave Natkin and Nikos Mixas and the beard-filtered growls of bassist Jarrod LeBlanc, who takes a cut like the shorter “La Haine” and pushes it beyond riff rocking into territory more aggressive, yes, but also more engaging in its stomp, duly punctuated by drummer Jeff Ramon.

Modern stoner metal has produced a number of acts working in a similar vein, but Twingiant prove able to navigate the EP without sounding redundant or losing the listener’s attention, the seven-minute “Cloaked in Black” taking Alabama Thunderpussy-style riffs out of the heartland and into a beating with a later slowdown and Ramon‘s fervent crash, answering back the thud of the opening “Pelisneros,” somewhat friendlier in its initial fuzz and early Down (think “Stone the Crow” in a different, less whiteboy-soul context), with Twingiant‘s angriest blows. I realize there are a couple Southern metal comparison points, but Sin Nombre doesn’t operate entirely in that sphere and it’s the contrast the vocals bring to a cut like “Pelisneros” that makes it harder to classify — the sweet leads and brutal growls playing off each other as the groove takes off and the ensuing “Fossilized” actually winds up working in a similarly creeping atmosphere to some of what New Zealand’s Beastwars were able to bring to their latest work, Blood Becomes Fire, with LeBlanc‘s bass playing an especially prevalent role in the second half of the song amid rasping, guttural growls and swirling leads.

But any way you slice it, Sin Nombre is heavy as hell and it knows it. It was made to be heavy and it turned out to be exactly that. A sample of serial killer/hitman Richard Kuklinski — that’s him talking about hate in the break of “Pelisneros” — only furthers the Church of Misery feel, but closer “Ricky X R.I.P.,” which seems to be a recording of someone (presumably the titlular Ricky X, in whose memory the track is dedicated) doing a radio show — and pretty recently, going by some of what he played — gives a surprisingly poignant end to a release full of ballsy riffs and brash grooving.

You can hear Sin Nombre now as part of the regular rotation on The Obelisk Radio, as well as check it out on the player below, snatched viciously from the Twingiant Bandcamp.

Twingiant, Sin Nombre EP (2013)


Twingiant on Thee Facebooks

Twingiant on Bandcamp

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